The recent release of the primer for the Canadian citizenship test, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship, has been met with mixed reviews. The editors of MacLean’s praise the guide for succeeding to make “Canada’s history seem both relevant and necessary.” The Globe and Mail believes that “in telling Canada’s stories, and the conflict, characters and challenges therein, it will enhance new Canadians’ attachment to their country.” This may be true. But despite the contribution of the usual handful of historians (Jack Granatstein, Margaret MacMillan, etc…), many in Canada’s historical community are not so laudatory. It has caused a flurry of activity in the history blogosphere. Here is a brief summary:
We are happy to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with a paper from Gérard-François Dumont of the University of Paris-Sorbonne entitled:
The Berlin Wall: Life, Death and the Spatial Heritage of Berlin (click the title to move to the paper’s page).
How can academic historians branch out to reach broader publics? Publishing in the popular press – whether local newspapers or nationally-circulated magazines – is one way to communicate academic research and analysis to a wider audience. On October 20th, the Canadian Network in History and Environment (NiCHE) sponsored a full-day workshop for graduate students in history and other disciplines. Skills taught included writing attention-catching op-eds, press releases, and magazine queries.
You and anyone you wish to bring along are welcome to attend a historical tour of the 19th century patient built asylum boundary walls located at the present-day Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 1001 Queen Street West, Toronto.
The purpose of this tour is to remember the contributions of the women and men who lived, worked, and died in the Toronto Asylum for the Insane, as is represented by the boundary walls that they built which stand as an enduring testament to their abilities, and to use the past to challenge discrimination experienced today by people who have a psychiatric history.
Yesterday, October 1st, the Graduate History Students Association at York University hosted their first Historians’ Craft of the year, which focused on the question of what Active History is.
The title of the forum was “Hands On History: Keeping History Relevant”. It was a round table discussion with guests Geoffrey Reaume, Victoria Freeman, Craig Heron and the members of Active History (activehistory.ca.) Some of the questions discussed were: What is the role of activists in the historical discipline? How does this affect questions of objectivity and presentism? What new methodologies are being developed in active history? What projects are being developed in the field? And please feel free to bring your own questions, concerns, and ideas about your project. As usual there will be a reception at the Underground following the discussion where some snacks will be provided.
The file is available here for download, and is ideal for those of you with long commutes, fun-filled workouts, or simply an enduring interest in Active History.
It is split into two parts due to size restrictions.
Workman Arts Presents:
“in SANITY”, The Story Behind the Wall
@ Scotiabank Nuit Blanche
Saturday, October 3rd 2009 from 7pm – 7am
@ the Workman Theatre, CAMH, 1001 Queen St. W., Toronto, ON M6J 1H4
The Story Behind the Wall is a mixed-media and cross-disciplinary art-making project taken on by artists of the Workman Arts Project of Ontario. Six artists chose six former patients from the Toronto Hospital for the Insane as depicted in the book Remembrance of Patients Past – Patient life at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane, 1870-1940 by Geoffrey Reaume. Their goal was to create figurative sculptures to creatively and expressively tell the stories of these individual patients.
Geoffrey Reaume’s careful research though the Archives of Ontario was an attempt to understand the patients as people first rather than a diagnostic label. Working from Geoffrey’s place of respect, the six artists from the Workman Arts Project chose six patients from his book and further investigated these individuals by relating to them as people, artists, and, as people who have experience with mental health as well as the confines of the Psychiatric System and the prejudice of society.
Monday October 19, 2009
Fifty thousand screaming readers rush the newsstand to get a copy of your latest
research. Okay, maybe they’re not screaming, but the numbers probably aren’t
that far off. While peer reviewed journals may make the academic world go
round, it’s through magazines and newspapers that your work can make its way
into homes across the country – and you might be surprised to find out how
interested Canadians are in what you do. Did we mention that you also get
paid, and the amount of work is probably less than you spent on your first
Understanding New Brunswick’s present by knowing about its past is the theme of a two-day bilingual conference on public policy and labour history to be held 1-2 September 2009 at the Wu Centre on UNB’s Fredericton campus.
The conference, Informing Public Policy: Socio-economic and Historical Perspectives on Labour in New Brunswick, brings together researchers and community leaders from all parts of the province and also features keynote speakers from Laval, Harvard and Concordia universities.
In today’s Globe and Mail, an insightful article from Mark Humphries that draws on the lessons of the 1918 Influenza to provide advice on how to deal with the contemporary H1N1 (‘swine flu’) pandemic fear. The link is here. It’s certainly worth reading and thinking about, both as a great way to see active history in motion but also because it deals with a very pressing issue.
In my opinion, this is a wonderful example of history being marshaled to provide policy prescriptions.